Bailey Dabney welcomed as new Morning News publisher

By: Don Kaulser, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. – South Carolina native Bailey Dabney is the new regional publisher of the Morning News and its affiliated publications.

Dabney, 52, has served for the past 1½ years in Warrenton, Virginia, as the publisher of the Fauquier Times and two affiliated newspapers.

The Fort Mill native was introduced Thursday to the Morning News staff.

Dabney replaces Joe Craig, who has served two-plus years as regional publisher of the Morning News.

“I’m a product of South Carolina. This is to a degree a homecoming for me,” said Dabney, who has some family in the Pee Dee area. An uncle once served as the superintendent of Florence schools.

“I’ve been in, around and through Florence at least once a year for almost all of my life,” Dabney said. “We would go through there on our way to or from Myrtle Beach or on our way to Florida on I-95. I’ve always loved Florence.

“I love the idea of living in Florence. I love the idea of working for the Morning News and the affiliated papers. The Morning News is one of the historically significant papers in the South. It’s an incredible opportunity to be in that building every day.”

After spending two years at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Dabney graduated from Erskine College in Due West, where he attended on a tennis scholarship. He returns to his home state with nearly 30 years of experience as a newspaper executive. He started in 1988 as a district manager at the News and Courier in Charleston, where he met his future wife, Kim.

“I intended to be a sportswriter,” Dabney said. “I wrote sports at Erskine. I just couldn’t find anybody who would hire me as a sportswriter when I graduated from college, so I took a job in circulation just to get in the building. I got a promotion and a raise, and after a certain point when the first job came open in Sports, it would have been a backward step pay wise. I didn’t look back.”

Dabney has worked for big newspapers, such as the Miami Herald and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and smaller ones, such as the Claremore (Oklahoma) Daily Progress. That was his first experience as a publisher. During his seven years there, the Daily Progress was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in two categories in 2013. He also spent four years as vice president of a technology company in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Dabney has a long history of community involvement. He has served on numerous nonprofit boards and has chaired a number of them. Most recently he has served as the board chair for the Main Street USA affiliate in Warrenton.

“I can’t wait to see downtown Florence after reading all about the renaissance,” he said. “I’m quite the fan of old downtowns.”

Dabney enjoys tennis and golf but says he hasn’t had time for either sport in recent years.

“My wife says the other woman in our house is a newspaper,” he said.

He describes himself as a technophile.

“I’m kind of addicted to gadgets,” he said.

 He also loves to read.

“I read fiction only,” Dabney said. “I can’t stay awake for nonfiction. Most of the fiction I read involves people get shot, stabbed or blown up.”

Dabney has been married for 25 years. He and Kim have three daughters and a son.

Craig will remain at the Morning News through the end of the year.

“I have really enjoyed working with the Florence community and all of our Morning News employees,” he said. “As of today I’ve really not made any decision on what I’m going to do in the next chapter of my life. I’m going to take some time off in the next few months and give that plenty of thought before making a decision. Let’s think semi-retired as opposed to retired. I’d like to ease into the fully retired status.”

Craig said he and his wife, Kathy, have really enjoyed Florence and the wonderful people they have met.

“I expect that we will seriously consider settling here permanently, so you might still see me around but just wearing another hat. We’ll see,” he said.

Craig is grateful to BH Media for bringing him to Florence.

“I want to reiterate what I have said several times to local community leaders,” he said. “BH is a great company, and the Morning News is lucky to be a BH newspaper. I encourage everyone to support the Morning News. It is your newspaper!”

Ribbon Cutting: Goodwill


FLORENCE, S.C. — A rain-soaked Thursday morning was unable to dampen the excitement of Palmetto Goodwill employees and shoppers as they celebrated the grand opening of the store’s second location in Florence, at 260 N. Beltline Drive.

Goodwill officials and employees joined ambassadors from the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce to hold a ribbon cutting at 9:45 a.m. before officially opening the store to customers.

Rick Shelley, director for workforce development for Goodwill in the Pee Dee and Grand Strand regions, said the goal of constructing the new store is to help with missions and services in the community.

“We’re very excited to be opening our second location,” Shelley said. “This is going to help us expand our footprint in the Pee Dee and give folks another opportunity to promote the mission of Goodwill in the Florence area.”

Shopper Katrienne Ham was one of the first to enter the new store on Thursday and came away impressed with the selection and price.

“I love the Goodwill and the mission they have,” Ham said. “I think it’s a wonderful thing. Nowadays, people don’t have a lot of money and they have things in the Goodwill store that are just as nice for a reasonable price.”

The mission of Goodwill is “to help people achieve their full potential through the dignity and power of work.”

Palmetto Goodwill CEO Robert Smith said the organization assists people in finding jobs, trains them in resume building and helps adults who haven’t received a high school diploma get their education and obtain certifications to get back out in the workforce.

Over 90 cents of every dollar made through retail is given back to the community through those education, training and employment programs.

“We bring them in, train them and help them become successful in the workplace,” Smith said. “This store not only serves as an opportunity to employ people, but also an opportunity to train them and place them back out in the community.”

In addition to store manager Ruth Cain and assistant manager Lamar Meyers, 15 store associates were hired in conjunction with the new store opening, according to Palmetto Goodwill.

“We’re really excited to have the Florence community and their support,” Smith said.

People can register all weekend long for a free 60-second Goodwill shopping spree by visiting the store location.

Last year, Palmetto Goodwill placed more than 1,596 people into new jobs and provided services for more than 57,981 in South Carolina.

For more information about its programs and services or to donate, visit

Florence Chamber wins South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Diversity Award.

KIAWAH ISLAND, S.C. – Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce was given The Excellence in Workplace Diversity Award this week at a South Carolina Chamber meeting.

The recognition is for companies making significant contributions to the advancement of South Carolina through diversity initiatives and inclusion efforts.

Criteria considered in selecting the winners include diversity initiatives, effectiveness and applicability/replicability.

The award was given at the South Carolina Chamber’s annual Summit meeting at the Sanctuary in Kiawah Island. On Tuesday night, the Business Leader of the Year was awarded at the Summit dinner. At a luncheon on Wednesday, the Diversity Awards, Business Week scholarships, the Sgt. William Jasper Freedom Award and the Public Servant of the Year Award were presented.

Les Echols, the Director of Community and Minority Enterprise for the Florence Chamber, accepted the Diversity Award for the Chamber.

“Diversity and inclusion is not just about programs or initiatives,” Echols said. “It’s about helping make an effective way of life for community and businesses to thrive.”

Mike Miller, the president of the Florence chamber, said Echols and the Chamber staff, have been focused heavily on helping to build diversity elements into all of business and community efforts.

“This focus will continue as we move forward,” Miller said. “I’m delighted Les was able to attend and accept the award.”

Looking ahead to the future of the Florence Center

Fellows in Education attendees visit Williams Middle School

The Fellows in Education attendees had the opportunity to visit with educators and students at Williams Middle School yesterday. The program is designed to give local leaders a unique, behind-the-scenes look at several schools within Florence School District One. It is a joint education effort between The Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce, Florence School District One and the Florence School Foundation.

Williams Middle School sits on the north edge of downtown Florence and serves approximately 630 students in grades 7 and 8. Since 2002, Williams has been home to the Middle Years Program, which allows students the opportunity to pursue an IB diploma at Wilson High School. Mrs. Pamela Johnson is the principal at Williams Middle School.

Sonoco partners with Clemson on packaging initiative

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Sonoco, one of the largest global diversified packaging companies, has announced a new research partnership with Clemson University.

The Sonoco FRESH (Food Research Excellence for Safety and Health) initiative will develop new technologies and new forms of packaging to optimize the fresh food lifecycle.

“Sonoco is committed to serving fresh brands, using packaging to tackle the challenges they face,” Sonoco President and CEO Jack Sanders said in a news release. “Optimizing fresh food packaging to extend shelf life and maintain quality makes fresh produce more accessible to communities and helps brands and retailers extend sales opportunities and eliminate food waste.

“Each year, the food industry loses $15.6 billion due to food spoilage at retail. Modifying packaging design to extend shelf life by even one day can recover $1.8 billion of that loss – while feeding more people and reducing waste to landfills.”

 To establish the multidisciplinary hub for innovation and research to advance fresh food packaging and distribution, Sonoco will contribute $1.725 million over five years. The company also will sponsor business-driven research projects totaling $1 million over that period. Sonoco FRESH is an extension of the partnership that created the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics at Clemson.

“Working with outstanding industry partners like Sonoco allows us to do more to develop solutions for the grand challenges facing the world, and it helps us to prepare our students to become future leaders,” Clemson University President James P. Clements said in a news release.

“Leveraging the expertise of our (more) faculty, Sonoco FRESH will play a key role in exposing our undergraduate and graduate students to issues related to the crisis of food waste and sustainability so that they will be informed and responsible decision makers as they enter the workforce.”

An electricity provider is gearing up to invest at least $22 million in solar energy

An electricity provider is gearing up to invest at least $22 million in solar energy to meet electric needs in Florence County.

According to county documents, the company is considering 17 different projects that include conversion of solar electricity at a site in Florence County. A tax agreement was introduced by Florence County Council on Thursday for the group of investments, collectively known as “Project Fig.”

Sources familiar with the project told the Morning News the company behind this project is Duke Energy. Officials with Duke Energy declined to comment on the project.

The county’s resolution lists nine of the projects included in Project Fig, all under code name. Each of these projects holds an investment on no less than $2.5 million, according to the document.

The projects listed are Projects Bani, Bass, Blacktip, Goldenrod, McCormick, Rutledge, Sapphire, South and Willis.

Other council business

County council members also unanimously approved tax incentives for “Project Veg 3,” which is actually a $35 million expansion of McCall Farms. This project will create 150 new jobs.

The council unanimously finalized a measure that will refinance debt on an existing facility and use that refinanced bond to build a parking garage adjacent to the county complex on Irby Street.

According to county documents, the bond amount may ultimately be less than $12 million “depending if and how much of” penny sales tax dollars are used – but will not surpass $15 million.

Officials said construction on a parking facility could begin in the early months of 2018.

Sharonview Federal Credit Union celebrates office relocation in Florence

By: Jessica Imbimbo, Morning News

FLORENCE, S.C. – Sharonview Federal Credit Union held a ribbon cutting Thursday afternoon to celebrate the relocation of its Florence branch to 1921 W. Palmetto St.

Ambassadors with the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce held the ribbon cutting and congratulated Sharonview executives and employees on their grand opening. The branch also held its “Cocktail & Conversations” event at 3:45 p.m. just before the ribbon cutting. Attendees mingled with Sharonview staff while enjoying light refreshments.

Sharonview Federal Credit Union is a full-service financial institution that offers a variety of services from banking to loan education and financial planning. The branch has been serving the Florence community since the 1970s and Bill Partin, president and CEO, said the company is thrilled to be opening the new branch.

“Achieving an enhanced member experience holds great value to Sharonview, and this new location will bring current members and new members the resources they need to meet their financial goals,” Partin said.

Alger Holloman, Florence branch manager, said the new location with allow for even more growth within the “Sharonview family.”

“Our team in Florence looks forward to building new and maintaining current relationships with our members in the area,” Holloman said.

Members of Sharonview Federal Credit Union have a say in credit union procedures because members are owners. Because it is a community charter branch, anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Florence County can become a member. To learn more about membership, call 800-462-4421.

The Florence hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit

SCNow Web Article – Sharonview Federal Credit Union celebrates office relocation in Florence 

WestRock to upgrade Florence County operations with a $470 million total Investment

COLUMBIA, S.C. – WestRock Company, a leading provider of differentiated paper and packaging solutions, announced today a planned investment in its Florence County kraft linerboard mill. This new investment will increase the mill’s efficiency, quality and service levels.

Taking place over the next two years, a $410 million investment will include installing a 330” state-of-the-art kraft linerboard machine and related infrastructure that will replace three older, narrow-width paper machines. The company expects the new machine to produce 710,000 tons of kraft linerboard annually. In addition, the company plans to invest approximately $60 million over the next five years to support the new machine and other mill projects.

When coupled with the recently-completed modern woodyard, the Florence mill will become one of the lowest cost kraft linerboard mills in North America.

The new linerboard machine will be housed in a building adjacent to the existing complex, and the company expects production on the new equipment, along with the shutdown of the three existing machines to occur in the first half of 2020.